Interesting facts about Tides and uses of Tidal Energy

by Andy Goldman on December 16, 2012

Tidal energy is one of the five (5) Renewable Green Energy sources in the direction of which governments and institutions are looking in order to find solutions for their energy problems. Tidal energy is a clean and sustainable form of energy and there is evidence that it has been used by mankind for more than one thousand years ago. We will present some interesting facts about Tides and some uses of Tidal Energy which we believe are interesting for the general public. If you are looking about specific Tidal Energy facts you may find them in relevant documents.

What is Tidal Energy?

Tidal Energy is a renewable energy source, RES, and in simple terms is the energy derived from the tides in the seas and oceans. The energy of the tides is captured by special tidal converters and it is converted into electricity or in some cases in other forms of energy.

The Tidal Energy together with the Wave Energy, are two types of RESs which are related to the oceans and thus they are grouped together under the Ocean Energy Resource Group. Ocean energy together with the Hydroelectric Energy, are grouped in the more general Group of RES called the Water Energy.

Facts about Tides

The cause of the Tides is the gravitational force of the moon and the sun. It should be noted that the gravitational force of the moon is greater than that of the sun and thus the tides from the moon forces are greater than those from the sun. There are instances where these two gravitational forces are unified, when the sun and the moon are aligned and this alignment makes the tides even stronger.

Tides are caused because the moon forces pull the waters of the oceans upward while the earth forces pull the waters down and the variation between the two forces is what causes the tides.

We have two types of tides, the spring and neap tides and these are caused at the different faces of the moon. The Spring tides are produced at full and new moon while the neap tides are produced at first and last quarter of the moon. Spring tides are higher than the neap tides.

Interesting Tidal Energy facts - Spring and neap tides

The tides are higher at the beach and thus while they start low offshore, about 2 feet in height, they get higher as they approach the beach and they may get as high as 44 feet high. The highest tide is recorded in Nova Scotia at Fundy bay with the tide height reaching 44.6 feet.

Due to the earth’s rotation we get two tide peaks and consequently two tide troughs, each is separated from each other by 12 hours correspondingly, peek to peek or trough to trough.

Uses of Tidal Energy

One way to understand a new topic is to learn some interesting facts and used about it so that you will understand what all is about and the magnitude and impact this form of Renewable Green Energy Source has on our lives and the energy market in general. Here is a list of some of the interesting facts and uses of Tidal Energy:

  1. Tides in the oceans and seas are created by the gravitational forces between the moon and earth. The tidal power between the low and high tides is captured and it is converted into electricity.
  2. Tides are predictable and stable therefore  the generation of electricity from the tides is predictable as well and thus its usage can be planned so that it will be used the time of production thus avoiding the need of electricity storage, where possible, something which increases the cost of production. It should be noted that other RESs like Wind energy are not so predictable.
  3. There are two main ways to capture the energy of the tides. One is using the horizontal movement of the water which implies capturing the kinetic energy of the tides and the other is using the variation, the rising and lowering, of the water levels thus capturing the potential energy of the tides.
  4. Tidal Power plants have an efficiency of 80% which is much higher than other renewable energy sources like solar energy.
  5. There are 3 different infrastructure methods to build a tidal power plant which will produce electricity. These are: tidal streams, barrages and tidal lagoons. The first tidal power plant build using a tidal stream was recently built in Ireland in 2007. The La Rance plant in France uses the barrage infrastructure. China is now building a tidal power plan exploiting the tidal lagoon infrastructure at the Yalu River.
  6. There are several commercial Tidal Energy plants around the world with the most known ones being the one at La Rance in Brittany, France and the one in Nova Scotia, Canada. The reason which inhibits the rapid commercialization of tidal energy is the high initial cost and the fact that the suitable locations for tidal energy plants are usually away from the areas of consumption. The La Rance tidal energy plant is based on the barrage type of plant infrastructure.
  7. Some of the positive impacts of the La Rance tidal energy plant are: The La Rance installation had no adverse impact on the water species in the area it was build, no flooding has occurred since the time it was build, a road was created which passes over the plant, it is a tourist attraction thus generates income for the area and most important of all it generates electricity for more than 300,000 homes in the area!

Interesting Tidal Energy Facts - La Rance Estuary

From the articles and publications about Tidal Energy (Tidal Power) that we read we can safely conclude that the technology around this renewable green energy resource is rapidly developing and that there is a lot of interest and research going on in this area.  The article about Tidal Energy facts for kids attempts to present some Tidal Energy facts for kids to understand the importance of Tidal Energy.

Tidal energy is expanding and the economics involved in building a tidal power plant are improving. With this in mind and given the fact that the various tidal technologies are improving we believe that soon we will more Tidal Power plants build around the world and this will increase the contribution of tidal energy to the total energy produced from renewable energy sources.

About the Author

Andy Goldman

Andy Goldman is a 27-year veteran in the service industry with managerial, strategic, operational and consulting experience. Has managed teams of 5-45 people and has also managed several multidiscipline projects. He has worked in Europe and the USA and holds a BSc and MSc in Electrical Engineering and an MBA with a minor in Finance. For the past 5 years he has been an enthusiast of renewable technologies. Article by Andy Goldman You can connect with Andy Goldman at Google+

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